Compendium of U.S. Copyright Practices, 3rd Edition

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310.8 Design Alternatives

310.8 Design Alternatives

When examining a work for original authorship, the U.S. Copyright Office will focus on the appearance or sound of the work that has been submitted for registration, including its individual elements and the work as a whole, to determine whether it contains a sufficient amount of original and creative authorship.

As a general rule, the Office will not consider possible design alternatives that the author may have considered when he or she created the work. Likewise, the Office will not consider potential variations in the use of the work, such as the fact that a work could be presented in a different color, in a different size, or with a different orientation.

The creative process often requires many choices involving the size, coloring, orientation, proportion, configuration, perspective, or other constituent elements of the work. These types of choices are present in every work of authorship. It is not the variety of choices available to the author that must be evaluated, but the actual work that the author created.

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